Making Antibodies

July 28, 2020

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Anchor lead: Is making antibodies to fight COVID-19 in a lab practical? Elizabeth Tracey reports

Researchers think they know which antibodies can kill or neutralize, in science speak, COVID-19. So why not just make that antibody in a lab – a so-called monoclonal antibody - rather than collect a recovered person’s plasma? Arturo Casadevall, an expert in antibody treatment of disease at Johns Hopkins, explains.

Casadevall: If you have a monoclonal you have a defined molecule. You know exactly what your concentration is. You know exactly what your activity is. If you get plasma you have a collection of antibodies with multiple functions. What has been kind of surprising to me and to the regulators is they’ve been measuring neutralizing antibody. But there are many antibodies that do other protective effects that don’t neutralize the virus. Some of these units of plasma that don’t appear to have a high amount of antibody do turn out to be associated in some cases with some degree of efficacy.  :31

Casadevall says both approaches are currently under investigation. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.

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